UMD: A Globally Connected University

F-1/J-1 Student Overview for Academic Departments

F-1/J-1 Student Overview for Academic Departments


F-1 and J-1 students must maintain their immigration status while remaining in the U.S. Many of the benefits for which students apply, require an academic advisor or departmental recommendation. These recommendations help ISSS understand a student's academic progress and plans.

International Student Orientation

Each semester ISSS organizes a orientation for all new international students. This three-four day orientation includes both mandatory and optional sessions. Departments are encouraged to visit our orientation website to view our mandatory events. Please encourage your students to attend.

Work Options

Students on F-1 and J-1 visas have various on and off campus work options. Some work options require forms signed by the academic advisor or program coordinator. Our section on Work Options provides an overview of the various work options for students and needed forms.

Full Time Enrollment

F-1 and J-1 students must pursue a full course of study and make normal progress towards the completion of the program of study.

  • UNDERGRADUATE students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester.
  • GRADUATE students must be enrolled in at least 48 units each Fall and Spring semester.
    • 20-hour assistantships are equivalent to 24 units;
    • 10-hour assistantships are equivalent to 12 units
  • Courses taken for "audit" or "incomplete" do not generate credits/units and cannot be used in calculating full-time status
  • Only one online course/distance education can count towards full-time enrollment.

Program Extensions

Often a student will need additional time, beyond what ISSS first indicated on the student's immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019), to complete his/her degree objectives. As long as:

  1. The Graduate School has not terminated the student's admission
  2. The academic advisor supports the student's continued enrollment
  3. The student provides proof of adequate funding

ISSS can grant a program extension. This extension can be done without the student leaving the U.S. For F1 students, the process must be completed before the I-20/DS-2019 expires.

The student will have to fill out a Program Extension eform on iTerp, The Academic Advisor will receive an email from ISSS asking for support for the extension which will need to be signed by the academic advisor.

Part Time Authorizations

An F-1 and J-1 student must pursue a full course of study and make normal progress towards the completion of his/her program. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations state that international students may be authorized to drop below a full course of study for the following reason:

  • Illness or medical condition;
  • Initial difficulty with the English language (first semester only);
  • Initial difficulty with reading requirements (first semester only);
  • Unfamiliarity with American teaching methods (first semester only);
  • Improper course level placement;
  • Completing a course of study

To obtain authorization, the student must submit to ISSS a completed Part Time Authorization form via iTerp.  The academic advisor will receive an email from ISSS asking for their input.  ISSS must receive the form before the add/drop deadline (two weeks into the semester).

End of Program

ISSS is required to report to USCIS the plans of each student exiting the University. Students are required to fill out the Exit Form via iTerp. This form is used to convey to USCIS the student's plans after exiting the University. If an F1 student plans to pursue Optional Practical Training after graduation the academic adviosr or graduate coordinator is required to respond to an ISSS email confirming details regarding the completion of a student's academic program.